1) Chew each mouthful of food very thoroughly
Whether it’s in our rush to get back to work or to see to the family around us, many of us do not take enough time to chew our food properly. However, chewing food is just as important as making good food choices and not doing it enough spells disaster for the stomach.
Chewing breaks your food up into manageable pieces but it also sends signals to your stomach that food is on its way. The stomach responds to this by producing digestive enzymes and stomach acid which makes food digestible. Therefore, if you gulp down your meal without taking time to chew it properly, it has the potential to bring on IBS symptoms like flatulence, heartburn and cramp.
It may seem like a lot but 30 chews should give your digestive system the warning it needs to prepare for the arrival of food.
2) Separate drink from food
Drinking with meals can dilute the digestive juices that work hard to process your food and as a result, you will be more likely to experience a flare up in your IBS. If you take a drink I’d recommend you then leave it 20 minutes before eating again. Also, after a meal do try to wait at least 45 minutes before drinking again.
That being said, I appreciate that some people find it difficult not to drink with their meal so in this instance make sure that you take nothing more than a small glass of water or juice.
If you would like to know a little more about the kind of drinks that help when you are suffering from IBS, I’d highly recommend you have a look at my blog on the subject!
3) Relax when eating
I’m sure we are all guilty of having the odd lunch on the go or whilst sitting hunched over at our work desk as we frantically finish emails and deadlines. However, these things are not conductive to good digestion!
First of all, the body finds it harder to process food when you are on the move and so this is only likely to exasperate IBS symptoms. Also, stress is known to negatively affect digestion because the body begins to focus on immediate survival rather than other bodily processes. Therefore, if you are busy worrying over your workload whilst you eat, your digestion will definitely feel the impact.
As a result, when it comes to meal times I’d recommend you find a comfortable spot to sit down, relax and eat!
4) Cut out wheat for a few days
Intolerance to gluten, which includes wheat, rye and barley, can sometimes go hand in hand with IBS. Here the body becomes sensitive to gluten and so struggles to digest it. Therefore, some people find it beneficial to cut this food group out for a little while to see if it makes any difference to their symptoms.
If you are unsure whether or not gluten is contributing to your IBS symptoms I’d recommend you have a look at our IBS symptoms checker.
5) Eat cooked and warm foods
As well as making changes to your diet to help your IBS, you must also think about how you cook your food. Warm foods are usually preferable to cold and raw foods because these are easier to digest. You may have seen it suggested that raw food helps IBS but this simply isn’t the case as uncooked food is not good for a sensitive gut.
So, why not swap raw fruit for some that is stewed and see if this is easier to digest?
6) Sit up!
Many of us hunch over our food without realising it but guess what? This is likely to bring on IBS symptoms such as flatulence and stomach pain because in this position the body can’t digest food as effectively.
Therefore, straighten your back, push those shoulders back and bring the food to you rather than going to it! Also, make sure you allow five minutes to pass once you’ve eaten to give your stomach a little extra time to digest your food.
7) Take herbal bitters such as Digestisan before meals
Digestisan is our very own remedy made from fresh extracts of the herbs cynara, dandelion, peppermint and boldo. This gives the product a rather strong taste but that’s exactly how you know it’s working!
The bitter taste of Digestisan triggers the proper production of digestive enzymes. This will ensure your food is broken down efficiently and that it won’t cause trouble on its way down.
These bitters work very quickly and aren’t contraindicated with any medications.
Originally published on 27 February 2015 (updated on 18 September 2018)